Note: This post was originally published in 2012, and much of what’s discussed below is still relevant and important, but there’s some additional love needed today that wasn’t included originally, so I’m adding in some updates to the sections. Updated March 3, 2019.
Optimizing your videos – for YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion or any other video sharing platform – in the same way you optimize your website is the best way to ensure you show up in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in Google, or even in YouTube.
More than 48 hours of video footage are uploaded to YouTube every hour, according to a report by Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Videos are a great way to spread the reach of your marketing efforts, and if you’re thinking about uploading some videos to YouTube to increase your marketing reach, make sure you optimize your videos so they show up higher in YouTube and Google search rankings.
Use the following tips and tricks to help you make your video more searchable and findable in search engines and video sharing platforms.
Video SEO Elements
Title. Your video title serves a couple purposes in optimizing your video.
- First, the words in the title help your video rank in more searches for the specified terms. So be sure to figure out your keywords for your video, and put those keywords at the beginning of the title.
- Second, an enticing title will work to attract more views. SEO is all about engaging visitors, providing them with great content, and increasing conversions. All can be done through optimized videos using these tips.
Update: Do your keyword research with the YouTube auto-complete function. By focusing on one of these keywords you’ll be sure to hit a high-demand query and be able to address it accordingly. Additionally, when you create your video, make sure to add keyword-rich and descriptive title tags, a long description (with keywords and links), relevant tags and a location (really good for Local SEO).
When you’ve determined your ideal keyword-focus for your video, run a few searches and organize the videos by popularity. This will show you the videos that appear well and have driven the most traffic for your targeted key word, and you’ll be able to see how you can differentiate your video from what’s already been done.
Description. The description is perhaps the most important element for optimizing your YouTube video. This is where a strong, keyword rich and explanatory description can help the video show up in search engines like Google and also in YouTube searches.
Here are some SEO tips and tricks to optimize the description area:
- Ask for shares and likes in the description. Videos with more social proof (likes and shares) rank higher in searches.
- Ask visitors to comment. This drives user engagement and is a great measure of social influence, interest and likeability
- Use in-video plugs to encourage users to subscribe to your channel and follow the videos you post. Subscribers are more likely to share and promote videos
- Remind people, both in the description and in the video, to use the embed code to place the video on their blog or social network
- Add URL links in the description that drive back to your website or blog. Tip: use “http://” as the prefix to your link so users can click on it. Without the http://, it will show up as plain text and the link will not be clickable
Update: Closed-Caption text/video transcription. Many videos viewed are done so with the sound off or low. Adding closed caption helps relate your message effectively, even when people can’t heard what is being said. You may want to check out SpeechPad for ridiculously affordable transcription.
Tags. It is recommended you use 4 to 7 tags for each video you upload. When you tag the video, make sure you use relevant, quality tags that represent the content of your video and category. It is also wise to have a tag specifically matched to the keyword you’re trying to rank the video for. It is also wise to use that exact phrase in the long description.
Tip: Don’t spam tag and use unrelated tags to try to drive views. Doing so will cause users to feel taken advantage of and not view your video, and possibly block or flag you.
One of the best ways to leverage images is through your channel customization. Use tools like canva.com or others to figure out the right size and dimensions for a photo, then quickly create something that speaks to your brand. Engagement metrics are important in the YouTube SEO world, so give your visitors a reason to stick around and engage with your brand on that channel.
Also add links to your website, blog, and other social media properties (this helps your Knowledge Graph in Google SERPs).
Off-Site SEO Elelements
Links. Getting high-quality, relevant links to your video is just as important as getting high quality links to your website. Make sure you are working all your standard SEO best practices to create great content and make people want to link to your video.
Social Media. Social media can be a complete pain in the neck if you follow all the advice out there. But using it to promote your video can actually be fun.
- Twitter: Personally, I think Twitter is a place where people go to recycle content in between personal epiphanies and useless drivel. However, if you have good content to recycle, such as an awesome, optimized YouTube video, get your #hashtag on and twitter away!
- Facebook: Facebook is a great platform for sharing video, especially because it is playable right in your news feed. No extra clicks. No trailing off. But, you have to have a catchy title to make sure people actually click play.
- LinkedIn: Pretty much the optimal site for targeted viewership for a business-optimized video on YouTube. Not as many users as Facebook, and all the better for it. The users here are professionals, and when you post to an industry specific group, the leads and referrals from that page will reflect well upon you and your content.
- Digg: Social bookmarking has lost some of its luster, but Digg is a classic source of link generation and exposure. Don’t expect to be able to post one link and have a huge following. Social bookmarking sites rely on regular updates and a solid track record of audience-friendly resources and links, so make sure to get social often.
- Delicious: Same thing as above. The user interface isn’t as friendly as Digg, but it works extremely well. Again, your link power is only as influential as your regularity and authority of your posts and suggestions.
- StumbleUpon: You can start a cheap paid campaign to promote your video to other stubmlers, or you can engage in the StumbleUpon community and promote relevant topics while following industry professionals and building relationships.
Blog/Online PR. Lastly, you can tap into your network of industry blogger friends (you have been cultivating relationships with people in your industry, haven’t you?) and ask if they’d be interested in writing an post about your video.
Or, better yet, ask if they’d allow you to write a guest blog post about your industry, and plug your video into the content. Just make sure with the latter option to provide meaningful and useful content, otherwise you risk both your reputations in the online sphere.
What about you – do you have any other tips or advice on how to get more traction with your videos?